By Ruthie Kelly, Editor in Chief
The guy sitting in the fluffy chair next to me right now did not start off our non-relationship well. His first bad move: loudly narrating his own actions, like he thinks he’s on some sort of reality show or starring in his own movie, as if to somehow benefit his audience – me.
“Now I’m gonna sit down.”
“Need to call my peeps.”
“Man, I’m tired.”
“Should probably charge my phone.”
The Starbucks that some twisted whim of fate has brought both of us to is experiencing a lull; no one sits at any of the four vacant tables around me. This makes his peculiar recital all the more disturbing and makes me more and more certain he’s talking for (if not to) me.
I am less than fond of this.
My expertly tuned creepy-desperate-egotistical-guy-dar is sending me more hits than Ashton Kutcher’s Twitter status updates. Unfortunately, I’m using one half of the only available electrical outlet, the other half of which he is now using to charge his ancient cell phone. So I’m basically trapped.
Since he first sat down 20 minutes ago, he’s been going through an elaborate charade, the motive of which I am trying to determine while furiously maintaining the outward appearance of ignoring everything he does.
“Hey homegirl, how you?” he bellows into his phone.
“Oh you know, good, what about you?” someone squawks in return. He has put it on speakerphone. Why, God … why?
“You know, I just been hangin’ wit’ the homies. How you been hangin’? How come you always say you wanna hang but then you never show up? You wanna hang lata?”
He has no idea how dangerously close he is to death at this moment. As a walking feminist stereotype, it’s usually children who make me feel uncomfortable this quickly, but as a person who takes disrespect for grammar personally, I can only barely smother my impulse to murder him as messily as he is murdering the rules of spoken English.
Every one of the six “homegirls” he calls in short succession get off the phone with him as quickly as possible. At first, this makes me feel vindicated.
Then he starts singing. Like a Backstreet Boy. Without the group’s oh-so-fine sense of pitch.
“My heart, can’t get close to my heart, under my heart …”
Suddenly I realize he’s leaving a brokenhearted and poorly tuned voicemail for some girl who is fortunate in that she is not dating him, and unfortunate in that he can’t seem to accept that.
During this whole weird scene, he keeps glancing at me out of the corner of his eye.
Thanks to my operant conditioning notes in PSY211 I know any response on my part, even one all sane, rational people in the world would interpret as negative (“Hey man, you’re being rude. Could you please lower your voice in this public setting for those of us doing work? Kthxbye”) could be wildly misinterpreted and result in reinforcing said behavior.
Despite all of his loud claims to the contrary, this guy’s fully hiked-up white knee socks proclaim he has had few, if any, interactions with females in his life and he desperately wants to change that. Even if it’s by trapping a woman who is clearly diligently working (well, reading archives of Savage Love on my laptop, but he doesn’t know that), in a conversation she is too polite (and too desperate for free Wi-Fi) to escape.
Eventually, He Who Shall Remain Tone-Deaf scrambled out of the store, but he left all of his pocket change behind. Which just made me feel like a “She continued to sit by me in spite of all my insanity!” whore … and makes me wonder which of us really came out victorious in our weird non-interaction.
—Ruthie Kelly is a journalism and political science sixth-year senior.
—This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.